May 27, 2016

RE: Gender Equality; Is Their Any Info Available on Gender Differences?

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


 With the furor raging over the question of gender equality (identity), it might be time for EVERYONE to visit  St. John Paul II's, Apostolic Letter regarding the dignity of women, Mulieris Dignitatem . 

The crusade for complete equality has taken a seriously convoluted turn.  Here (in my opinion) are the irrefutable facts in the order as I see them:  1)Man and Woman are both human beings;  2)Man and Woman are unique unto their own sex;  3)Man and Woman complement each other;  4)Man and Woman can form a bond with each other which allows them to be able to unite together  as one couple;  this natural, complimentary bond completes the Human equation;  5) the answer to the human equation is New Life.

Therefore  it follows that;  Man and Woman NEED each other; Man and Woman need to respect each other for their uniqueness which allows them to ‘complete ‘ each other ; and finally, Man and Woman will cease to exist without each other.  

This concept is generally mocked in a secular driven world. Therefore I am posting the message below from St John Paul II. 




From  Mulieris Dignitatem (1988), no. 18
"Parenthood - even though it belongs to both  man and woman - is realised much more fully in the woman, especially in the prenatal period. It is the woman who 'pays' directly for this shared generation, which literally absorbs the energies of her body and soul. It is therefore necessary that the man be fully aware that in their shared programme of parenthood he owes a special debt to the woman."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
   
And I shall add a quote from Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen :
“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Final thought from me: Is their any information available about Gender Differences?

                                        ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

May 25, 2016

Reality Check: Does Having Judeo-Christian Values Make You a Candidate for Genocide?

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

The words--annihilation, extermination, carnage, and slaughter, to name a few, are synonyms for the word "Holocaust". The word "genocide"not invented until 1941, fits right in there. But none of those words bring us to the core of what those words truly represent. They are the by-product of the malevolent, hideous, and hate filled evil that consumes and takes control of certain human beings.

During the 20th century, seven periods of genocide  took place. Beginning with the  Armenian Genocide of  1915-1918, moving  to the Holocaust of 1938 -1945, seeing the horrors of Rwanda in 1995 and jumping forward to today's worldwide daily carnage, what has changed? Not a damn thing.

The pages of history are filled with countless numbers of people who have seen fit to perform evil, vicious acts against those of their own kind. It defies logic, common sense, and so many other traits that are part of the human condition. Supposedly "good" people, upstanding citizens, if empowered and able to hide behind a mantra of legality, turn on their own kind and subject them to the most incredulous pain and suffering they can conjure up. How many Nazi war criminals used the excuse of "just following orders" to justify their actions?

But we lose a sense of the horror when we talk about the "millions" of innocents annihilated. We somehow need to look at individual people to grasp a sense of what did  happen and is happening up and including this very day. In fact, history proves that the our humanity is tied together with our ancestors, those part of our present and those that will follow us in the future.

In early April I wrote about the only nun ever sentenced to death by a Nazi court. Her name was Sister Maria Restituta (now Blessed Maria). Blessed Maria's "crime" was  that she refused to remove Crucifixes from hospital bedrooms. I would now like to mention the very first priest to die in a Nazi concentration camp. Just like Blessed Maria he was also born in Austria. His name was Otto Neururer.

Father Neururer was a parish priest and a young woman came to him seeking advice. She wanted to know whether or not she should marry a divorced man. The man had a shady past and Father Otto advised her against the marriage. She told this man what Father had told her and he promptly went to his friend who was a high ranking Nazi official in the area. Father Neururer was arrested for "slander to the detriment of German marriage" and sent to Dachau Concentration Camp. From Dachau he was sent to  Buchenwald which was under the command of Martin Sommer aka "The Hangman of Buchenwald".

While at Buchenwald, Father Neururer performed a "forbidden" Baptism. He was caught, sent to the punishment block and Martin Sommer decided to have him hung upside down. Father Neururer was left that way until he died 36 hours later. He was 58 years old and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1996.

Demonstrating the connection from yesterday to today and onward to tomorrow let us jump ahead to  April 7, 2014. The place is Homs, Syria. Creatures of habit, most of us more than likely went through our usual daily routine of showering, brushing our teeth, having coffee, getting dressed and doing the things we usually do in whatever order we do them which is unique to each of us as individuals. And then there were those that did not have an ordinary kind of day. One of them was Father Frans Van der Lugt a 75 year old Jesuit who had spent 50 years in Syria helping the poor and needy. This day would be his last.    

On Monday morning, April 7, masked assailants stormed into the monastery where Father Frans was tending to the remaining few dozen Christians left in Homs, (down from the 60,000 a few years earlier). These ISIS cowards dragged the 75 year old priest from the church, beat him mercilessly and then shot him in the head, killing him.

Father Fran's crime was for being a Catholic priest and serving Jesus and loving his neighbor. What was Father Otto's crime 70 years earlier? He was a Catholic priest serving Jesus and loving his neighbors. And dear Blessed Maria, she was just a Catholic nun and a nurse who loved Jesus and was beheaded for refusing to remove a Crucifix from a hospital wall.

To tie the entire century together lets not forget the Armenian Martyrs of 1915 thru 1918. Being part of the Judeo-Christian world means we must always be prepared and always be ready to stand up for God and Jesus and Goodness. Not one of those mentioned and the millions of their  murdered brethren ever thought  a day like that would come their way. Were they all ready to die for their faith? Would you or I be ready? Maybe it is time for ALL of us to think about that.

                                 ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

May 23, 2016

3 Saints Who Never Knew the Impact They Would Have on Others -

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

This article appeared in Aleteia on May 18, 2016

St. Vincent de Paul, Blessed Frederick Ozanam, St. Jeanne Jugan
Saint-Servan, France,1839:  On a bitterly cold winter night,  Jeanne Jugan , 47, looked out from her bedroom window and saw a person huddled outside. She went out and somehow managed to carry the shivering woman into her own home and place her in her own bed.

The woman's name was Anne Chauvin and she was blind, paralyzed and quite old. She was also close to freezing to death. And so it began, for on that very night Jeanne Jugan turned her life to serving God by caring for the elderly poor. 

Word spread quickly throughout the small town and before long more elderly sick and poor were being brought to Jeanne. Other women, younger and healthier, were coming to her also. But they were coming to join her in her work. The small group of women grew and became known as  The Little Sisters of the Poor

By 1879, there were over 2400 Little Sisters of the Poor in nine countries. That year was also the year that Pope Leo XIII approved the by-laws of the order. Ironically, it was also the same year Jeanne Jugan died at the age of 86. She was canonized a saint on October 11, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Saint Jeanne Jugan never knew that when she was founding the Little Sisters of the Poor a young countryman of hers in Paris was responding to God’s flowing graces. Frederick Ozanam was a 20 year old student at the University of Paris. Challenged by his "enlightened" college peers, he embraced their taunts "to practice what you preach".  

Accepting the challenge, Frederick went out and gave his coat to a beggar.  Shortly thereafter,  he and his four pals founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society . That was in May of 1833.  They named the society after St.Vincent because he was known for his work with the poor.

Vincent de Paul never knew that 170 years after his death an organization named after him would take up the mantle of helping the poor all over the world. Frederick Ozanam died at the age of 40 and was beatified and declared 'Blessed' by Pope John Paul II in 1997. Frederick  would never know that the organization he had founded would one day work side by side with the Little Sisters of the Poor in their mission of charity toward the elderly poor.

 St. Jeanne Jugan could never have known that from the moment she carried Anne Chauvin into her home she would change the world for thousands upon thousands of the sick and disabled elderly. She could never have imagined that in the 21st century her order would be serving the poorest of the elderly in cities all over the United States and in 31 countries around the world.

 Blessed Frederick would never have imagined that his Society of St. Vincent de Paul would become a worldwide organization with close to a million members helping the needy all over the world. The grand irony is that over the course of several centuries the paths of these three saints have been interwoven dramatically as their followers help the poor, homeless and downtrodden no matter where they may be.

The three saints mentioned here never knew what their simple acts of kindness would lead to. The difference with them was that, unlike most folks, they responded to God's grace. Jeanne took care of that sickly woman and Fred gave away his coat. Vincent worked with poor tenant farmers and founded the Daughters of Charity.

These three unpretentious, God loving people had two things in common.  First, they embraced God's grace and followed His call. Secondly, they asked for NOTHING for themselves and welcomed whatever came their way, including poverty. Their legacies live on in the thousands upon thousands of their followers and in all those millions who have been helped by their simple acts of faith. This is a beautiful thing.

 As a Catholic I love these people and I am proud to consider myself part of their extended family. They set examples for us that we are supposed to emulate. They are our Catholic heroes and therefore members of our Catholic Hall of Fame. They asked for nothing and gave everything. I love being able to talk to them. What I love best is when they talk back. And they do, sooner or later and one way or another.

 St. Vincent de Paul, St. Jeanne Jugan and Blessed Frederick Ozanam, please keep praying for all of us. And ---THANK YOU.


                            ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved


May 5, 2016

Meet the "Doorkeeper"; The Man Who Shed his Ego *

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson



* An edited version of this appeared in Aleteia on May 3, 2016

Worn down by the egotistical blustering of all the presidential candidates I decided to begin a search for someone sans EGO. I was sure it would be almost next to impossible. Then a bulb went off in my frazzled brain. 

I began a search of  the Official Catholic Directory of Saints. The search was easy. It is chock full of the “Egoless”. (N.B. Being egoless is not a birth defect). The saints managed to discover the secret to attaining a diminished to non-ego persona. They learned how to love God with all their minds, hearts and souls (something most of us fail miserably at doing).  They mastered the technique of diminished ego and advanced in their spirituality to the point where it led them to love others more than themselves. They reached a point where their own self was no longer a concern to them. Others came first.

These are the people gone before us who loved God unconditionally. Many times, like most of us, they failed miserably before they got it right. They just never quit trying to love God MORE every day. These folks ultimately emptied themselves for others before they died, many times giving their lives in doing so. This Directory of Saints is a treasure trove of Christian example for all of us, especially the young.

The “Doorkeeper” is an example of this. He was an uncomplicated man who never aspired to be anything more than a simple priest. His name was Bernard Francis Casey and his family and friends called him Barney. Barney, like so many other Catholic saints, shed his ego.

The "Doorkeeper", Father Solanus Casey
Barney was born in Oak Grove, Wisconsin back in 1870. He was the sixth of 16 kids of Irish immigrants. When Barney was a boy he contracted Diptheria and it left him with a permanently raspy sounding voice. (This would inhibit his speaking ability for the rest of his life). Young Barney felt the call to the priesthood but, at the age of 16, he hit a detour. He had to go to work to help the family.

Barney Casey always did whatever job he had (he worked as a lumberjack, a prison guard , a streetcar operator and even a hospital orderly) to the best of his ability wanting to serve his God in all things. When he was 21 he was finally able to enter St. Francis High School seminary in Milwaukee. He spent five years there before being able to move on and join the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. Upon his acceptance he took the name of Solanus after St. Francis Solanus, a 17th century missionary.

Solanus Casey  was finally ordained a priest at the age of 33. He had to study extremely hard to reach that goal and when he was finally ordained he was given the title "Sacerdos Simplex" which means "simple priest". This meant he was not permitted to preach or to hear confessions. He never complained and took joy in having the honor and privilege of being able to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Father Casey lived in Detroit and his main job at the monastery was that of the doorkeeper. Father Casey, wanting to do the absolute best at whatever God chose for him, became the finest doorkeeper that ever lived. He did this for well over 20 years.  Unexpectedly, he also became known for his service to the sick and for the advice and consultations he would have with visitors. People began attributing cures and other blessings to his interaction with them or others. He quickly became known as “The Doorekeeper”.

Father Casey was a man who opened and closed doors for people. He was a man who disregarded ego and was happy to serve God in the simplest of ways. He was a man who, because miracles have been attributed to his intercession, was declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II in 1995. This is the first step toward canonization as a saint. Father Solanus Casey died in 1957.

Father Solanus Casey is on the road to full sainthood. And all he did to begin his journey down that road was to humbly and happily open doors for people and talk to them if they wanted. A shining example of the beauty of humility and how powerful that quiet virtue can prove to be.

Solanus (Barney) Casey has re-charged me. It might be nice if all of today’s bloviating pundits could hear or read his story. It would also be a fine thing if all the young people across the entire country were also introduced to this God loving, humble man who managed to become famous by simply opening doors better than anyone else.


                                ©LarryPeterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

April 30, 2016

May 1: Honoring Good St. Joseph; Patron Saint of all Workers

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


By Larry Peterson
St. Joseph, teaching his Son, Jesus, carpentry
from the painting by Georges da La Tour, 1640sn
Just a 'shout-out' from me to St. Joseph, my favorite saint, on the feast of "St. Joseph the Worker".  He is an inspiration and magnificent role model , not just for husbands and dads but for all men.  I love this man. 

Today the Catholic world honors all workers, those from yesterday, from today and those not yet here. Fittingly, the man who heads the list is none other than St. Joseph,  foster dad to Jesus Christ and husband to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The day is called the "Feast of St. Joseph the Worker" and honors the quiet carpenter holding him up high as an example for all workers and their families.

Saint Pope John Paul II on St. Joseph: 

“Let us imitate our model St. Joseph in all
our endeavours especially the raising and upbringing of our families.  St. Joseph did Great Things in the ordinary things of life.  In loving His wife, in loving His Son, and especially loving God and every person who ever lived.  Let us start always in our family to love our neighbor."   

 "The essence and role of the family are in the final analysis specified by love. Hence the family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love, and this is a living reflection of and a real sharing in God's love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the Church his bride.  Through God's mysterious design, it was in that family that the Son of God spent long years of a hidden life. It is therefore the prototype and example for all Christian families."

The Catholic Church deeply venerates this Family and proposes it as the model for all families.  The family of today can learn so much from this family.  Why is this so?  Because it was headed by the greatest earthly husband and dad ever, St. Joseph. 
Oh, Saint Joseph, we never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; we dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in our name and kiss his fine head for us and ask him to return the Kiss when we draw our dying breath.
Saint Joseph, Patron of departed souls – pray for us. Amen.

April 26, 2016

The Demons of Abadon; Cover & Preview




ANNOUNCING!

The Demons of Abadon

A Novel

By Larry Peterson

NOW AVAILABLE!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5.8


Part of the Rebirth of Catholic/Christian Fiction


The Darkened were blackened souls filled with hate who had chosen to reject goodness in life. Upon leaving their earthly bodies they moved into a world absent of hope. It was the most dreadful place to be. Scorched and dark, it was steaming hot and never ending. The worst part was, this place was devoid of second chances. This caused the hatred inside the Darkened to burn like a white-hot, unquenchable fire. If only they could have said just once, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” 


Jacob had sat almost motionless for almost three hours. He had to go to the bathroom but, afraid to move, had held it. He could not contain it any longer and slowly and as quietly as possible began to stand up. His first step toward the rear of the house was silent. The second one was not. A “squeak” from the old plank floor reverberated up from under the boy's sneaker. Jacob thought it sounded like an explosion although it could hardly be heard at all. The boy's heart sank and he froze in his tracks. It was too late. “Where have you been boy?”----
Jacob knew that lying was bad. He also knew that if he told the truth it would be bad. Either way, he would be punished---again. He did not want to be bad. He definitely did not want to violate a commandment. He did not know what to do. He started to cry.


About the Author:

Larry is a Catholic/Christian blogger and, besides writing books,  posts diverse, weekly commentary on his blog. His work has appeared in such publications as Zenit from Rome, Aleteia, New Evangelists, Top Catholic Blogs, Big Pulpit, Catholic365.com and others. His first children's picture book, "Slippery Willie's Stupid, Ugly Shoes" was published in 2011. In 2012, his full length novel, "The Priest and the Peaches" was released.  "The Demons of Abadon",his latest novel,  began being published in Volume form (ebook format) in the fall of 2015. The complete novel (paperback and ebook) is now available.

Short link:  amzn.to/1SdW5gS


                             copyright ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved






April 15, 2016

Meet the Only Nun Sentenced to Death by a Nazi Court: Her Crime? "Hanging" Crucifixes*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

*An edited version of this article appeared in Aleteia on April 12, 2016.

Just imagine being arrested on Ash Wednesday for the crime of “hanging Crucifixes”. I cannot imagine how I would handle it. Maybe I would have taken the Crucifixes down. Honestly, I do not know. Helena Kafka, who became known as Sister Maria Restituta, refused. She was sentenced to death. The following year, on Tuesday of Holy Week, she was executed .

May 1, 1894, was  a happy day for Anton and Marie Kafka.  Marie had just given birth to her sixth child and mom and her daughter were both doing fine. The proud parents named their new baby girl, Helena.  Devout Catholics, Anton and Marie had Helena baptized into the faith only thirteen days after her birth.

The ceremony took place in The Church of the Assumption, in the town of Husovice, located in Austria.  Before Helena reached her second birthday, the family had to move and settled in the city of Vienna.  This is where Helena and her siblings would remain and grow up.

Helena was a good student and worked hard. She received her First Holy Communion in St. Brigitta Church during May of 1905 and was confirmed in the same church a year later. After eight years of school she spent another year in housekeeping school and, by the age of 15, was working as a servant, a cook and being trained as a nurse.

In 1913, she became an assistant nurse at Lainz City Hospital. This was Helena's first contact with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and she was immediately moved to become a Sister herself.  On April 25, 1914, Helena Kafka  joined the Franciscan sisters and on October 23, 1915, became Sister Maria Restituta. She made her final vows one year later and began working solely as a nurse.

When World War I ended Sister Maria was the lead surgical nurse at Modling Hospital in Vienna.  She and all other Austrians had never heard of Adolf Hitler and could never have imagined that one day, because of this man, their beloved nation would be annexed into the German Republic.
Blessed Maria Restituta

On  March 12, 1938, the Austrian Nazi Party pulled off a successful coup d'etat taking control of the government. These unforeseen and unimagined things had come to pass. The Nazis, under Hitler, now controlled the once proud Austrian nation.

Sister Restituta was very outspoken in her opposition to the Nazi regime. When a new wing to the hospital was built she hung a Crucifix in each of the new bedrooms. The Nazis demanded that they be removed. Sister Restituta was told she would be dismissed if she did not comply. She refused and the crucifixes remained hanging on the walls. 

One of the doctors on staff, a fanatical Nazi, would have none of it. He denounced her to the Nazi Party and on Ash Wednesday, 1942, she was arrested by the Gestapo after coming out of the operating room. The "charges" against her included, "hanging crucifixes and writing a poem that mocked Hitler”.

Sister Maria Restituta, the former Helena Kafka, loved her Catholic faith and, filled with the Spirit, wanted to do nothing more than serve the sick. The Nazis promptly sentenced her to death by the guillotine for "favouring the enemy and conspiracy to commit high treason".  The Nazis offered her freedom if she would abandon the Franciscans she loved so much.  She adamantly refused. She would be the only Catholic nun ever sentenced to death by the Nazis.

An appeal for clemency went as far as the desk of Hitler's personal secretary and Nazi Party Chancellor, Martin Bormann. His response was that her execution "would provide effective intimidation for others who might want to resist the Nazis".  Sister Maria Restituta spent her final days in prison caring for the sick. Because of her love for the Crucifix and the Person who was nailed to it and died on it, she was beheaded on March 30, 1943 which also happened to be Tuesday of Holy Week. She was 48 years old.
                                                   
Pope John Paul II visited Vienna on June 21,1998.  That was the day Helena Kafka, the girl who originally went to housekeeping school to learn how to be a servant, was beatified by the Pope and declared Blessed Maria Restituta.  She had learned how to serve extremely well. But the one she served best of all was her Savior. She gave Him her life.

Blessed Marie Restituta, please pray for us.
    

          ©LarryPeterson  2016

April 1, 2016

My Pal Jumbo Never Went To Mass Until----Then He Never Missed Mass Again*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

*This column also appeared in Aleteia on Easter Sunday, 2016

Jumbo Feeney and I grew up together in the Bronx and we have been best friends since "Hector was a pup". We can go a year without talking to each other and when we get on the phone together it is just like we spoke ten minutes ago. I love the guy. But sometimes he drives me nuts. Why? Because he has an opinion on most things known to man (oops,and woman) and will never admit he is wrong.

When I see his name and number on the screen of my smart phone I usually do not answer right away. I need time to mentally prepare for the impending event. I know that invariably, when I answer, Jumbo will be in mid sentence having been already talking as if I had been on the phone the last minute or two. I will not have a clue as to what he talking about and it takes me a minute or two to figure it out. By the time I do he is already four minutes into his conversation of speaking to no-one.  It is a fantastic dynamic we have. So the first thing I do is  quickly pray very hard for all the gifts of the Holy Spirit to immediately explode within me . I need all the help I can get.

 Yesterday I see Jumbo's name and number on the screen. (If my phone was truly smart it would wait until I was ready for the call but it doesn't care). I immediately violate my own rule and answer the phone. Jumbo is talking and already in mid sentence, "---you know what I'm talking about Petie, right?"

I think fast and say, "Uh, sure Jumbo. What was that you said first? You couldn't do what?"

It was a smart move on my part. Jumbo says, "Oh man, weren't you listening?"

"I was hanging on every word, Jumbo, but you were talking so fast I missed part of it."

"Petie, (he has always called me Petie) I am going to Mass this Sunday. What do you think of that?"
He paused and waited for my non-reply. Then he hollered into the phone, "Hey Petie, you there? Say something, will ya? Hope I didn't give you a heart attack or something."

Jumbo Feeney had not been to Mass in decades. He would go for a social event like a wedding or a funeral but never on his own. But he sounded different. As if he really meant it.

I recovered and said, "Uh, no, nothing like that. Just some mild chest pains and a headache. They are subsiding."

I waited a moment and said, Okay Jumbo, what happened? It has been many years since you went to Mass on your own."

"Okay Petie, here it is. And I ain't never told this to anyone so keep it under your hat. Every night when Midge and I go to bed she grabs my hand and we say a Hail Mary. Then she says, "God loves you Jumbo." Then we go to sleep."

"That's a beautiful thing, Jumbo. Midge is a great gal. She loves you a lot."

"Yeah, I know, I know. But I never paid attention and just let her say her prayer and that was that. And she never bugged me about it, ever."

"So what happened?"

"Well, last night, Midge was acting weird and suddenly passed out. I kind of freaked out. She fell down on the floor and was out cold. Jimmy quickly says to me, "Grandpa, its grandma's blood sugar. She needs something sweet to eat. You have  to check her blood sugar. "

I said, "Damn Jumbo, so what happened?"

"Petie, I didn't know what to do. She has diabetes all these years and I didn't know what to do. I went blank. So, my twelve year old grandson gets Midge's blood sugar kit out, sticks her finger and finds out her sugar is 39. He gets some OJ and some sugar and some stuff for her to eat and he saved her Petie. My grandson  saved my wife while I stood there like a useless ass. If he wasn't there I----." Then I heard my 6'5", 250 pound buddy, stifle a sob.

It was a startling story and I didn't know what to say to him. I can hear Jumbo's tear filled voice say to me, "Petie, Jimmy and I got her  on the couch and she is now sitting up. She takes a deep breath, looks at me and asks me if I will you please go to Mass with her on Easter Sunday."

"So, what did you tell her?"

"I put my arm around her shoulder, looked her square in those beautiful green eyes and said, 'Midge, I swear to you, I will go to Mass with you every Sunday from this Easter on. I swear it. All those times you told me that 'God loves me', well Midgie, you were right. The least I can do is give Him some time back. After all, He gave me you back. I owe Him big time."

"Hey Jumbo, give Midge  a hug for me, will ya. And, Happy Easter. Love ya, man."

"Yeah, love ya too, Petie. Happy Easter."

                                 ©Larry Peterson2016 All Right Reserved

March 21, 2016

This Year Holy Week Sends a Perfect Storm: Embrace Its Power

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

If you are Catholic and have not been to Mass or confession in thirty years or more you might think that forgiveness is beyond your  grasp and that there is "no hope" for you. You might even think that if you walked into a church you would turn into a pillar of salt. Well, here is the deal. All of that negative, " I'm too bad to be forgiven" or "It's too late for me" stuff is bunk. It is what is known as a "cop-out". But there is great news for all of us, wicked sinners included.

You see, a Perfect Storm is approaching. This might even be a once in a lifetime occurrence. During the upcoming days, Holy Week, Easter Sunday and the Holy Year of Mercy will converge into a spiritual tsunami ready to wash us all with its unrivaled, avalanche of Love., Forgiveness and Mercy.

Even if you have been the most self-centered, egotistical, s.o.b. since Caligula busied himself ravaging Rome, it does not matter. We all have an opportunity to run into this storm, open our arms wide, and embrace the deluge of unconditional love and mercy that God will be pouring down upon us. There is a catch. We have to want it and ask for it. That's all there is to it. That seems simple enough but for so many it is so hard to do. That is because something called Pride stops us over and over.

Recently I wrote about Dutch Schultz. Dutch was one of the most feared and brutal murderers in the bootlegging business in the 1930s. He ruled the Bronx and, as he lay dying after being gunned down in Newark, N.J., asked for a priest. He had his confession heard, asked for and received Anointing of the Sick and received Holy Viaticum (last Communion). Was Dutch Schultz turned away and told he did not qualify for mercy? Answer, NO.

Let us look at another fellow who makes Dutch Schultz look like a "goody-two-shoes". His name was Rudolf Hoess *. This man was the Kommandant at Auschwitz, the deadliest and most efficient of the German death camps. Hoess designed the extermination processes that were implemented there and was responsible for the murders of over two and a half million people.  

Every day, Rudolf Hoess kissed his wife and kids good-bye and went to work. While at work he  supervised the killings and torturing of countless men, women and children. After work he went home, kissed his wife hello, ate dinner with his family, read a book to his children and then tucked them into bed. What a guy. What a dad. What a husband. He also can lay claim to the title, Greatest Mass Murderer in History. 

Here is something not too many people are aware of.  Hoess  had ordered the execution of a group of Jesuits, including their Superior, Father Wladyslaw Lohn. The priests  were all herded out together to be killed but, ironically,  Father Lohn  was not with the others. The priest was somehow "absent" for his execution and the executioners did not know it. Was it Providence?

Rudolf Hoess was raised in a strict Catholic household but rebelled against his faith as a teenager. Right before his execution  he asked for a priest. It was Father Lohn who was sent to him. It was Father Lohn who heard his confession, anointed him and gave him his final Holy Communion. Then Hoess was sent to the gallows.

Isn't it amazing but, no matter how evil any of us has been, as long as we have a breath left in us God will hear our cries for mercy. All we have to do is ask. Even a monster such as Rudolf Hoess was given a chance at forgiveness. He responded to grace, seized the moment and asked for God's mercy. Was he redeemed? What do you think? (See temporal punishment )

The point is this. Love, Forgiveness and Mercy are ours for the asking. And now, as Holy Week and Easter Sunday join The Holy Year of Mercy, a Perfect Storm is about to blow across our world, a storm that you will want to be sucked up in and transported to another spiritual dimension. No matter what you have done, it is never too late. God waits with open arms for all of his children. Some will seize the opportunity, swallow their pride and ASK for forgiveness and mercy.  Others will never do it. We all have a choice. We can embrace the storm or hide from it.

Rudolf Hoess* should not be confused with Rudolf Hess, who was Deputy Fuhrer under Hitler

                                      ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

March 11, 2016

Meet a REAL Man; Joseph of Nazareth (Feast Day, March 19)

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

I call Joseph of Nazareth the "Shadow Saint" because so little is known about him. There is not even one spoken word he ever said that was recorded.  But his quiet life resonated like huge cymbals being smashed together over the ages and into our very 21st century existence. For it was Joseph of Nazareth who saved the Son of God so he could live to save all of us.

 God sent His Son to us because without His perfect sacrifice we would have been lost forever. All humankind contributed to the death of Jesus Christ. He suffered and died for us  because the love of God is so unfathomable it was the only way to give us all a second chance to grab onto the brass ring of Eternal Salvation. But without Joseph maybe the brass ring would not have been.

Joseph of Nazareth and his boy, Jesus Christ
The ONLY man who could ever call him "my boy"
Joseph, a carpenter from Nazareth, was obviously humble and egoless and gave of himself. He was a real MAN.  And it was this man, this quiet, shadow saint who single handedly saved the life of our Savior from being put to death while He was still an infant. Imagine if he had not been able to accomplish this.

As a man, I try to imagine having to confront what Joseph confronted as Mary’s husband. He accepted her pregnancy at a time when the scandal of such a thing oftentimes meant execution for the woman. He was forced to put her on the back of a donkey and take her 80 miles over rocky, dirt roads to Bethlehem for the census. She was almost full term and the trip would have probably taken three to five days. I would have been sick to my stomach praying we could make it. Then, upon arrival, his wife goes into labor. There were no ERs, no cell phones, no 911 calls, no paramedics…you are on your own, end of story.

He was in a strange town without friends and could find no shelter. He was probably trembling and telling his wife, “Stay calm sweetie, it will be all right. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.”  And he is forced to bring her to a dirty, smelly stable that is an animal shelter. Here she has to give birth to her child who is the Son of God. As a man, he must have felt so inadequate, so un-manly. His heart must have been breaking.

The miracle of the Virgin Birth takes place and mother and child are fine. But then Joseph discovers that King Herod wants to kill his baby boy. Okay guys, think about it. You have made it this far and now you learn the army has been ordered to find your child and kill him. They are out in force searching for YOU and YOUR family. They are killing all boys two years old and under so as not to miss killing your son. But it is you and your wife and child they want. Those other children are ‘collateral damage”, an afterthought to Herod’s vicious orders. The fear and anxiety within Joseph must have been overwhelming yet he did his best to remain upbeat.

Somehow, someway, with his resolve of faith and trust in God propelling him forward, he made it to Egypt and saved his family. I have no idea how he managed to do it. Egypt was three hundred miles away but he got them there safe and sound. He saved not only the Redeemer and probably the Blessed Mother from death, he made it possible for all of us to be saved too.

One final thought about this incredible person;  Joseph of Nazareth was the only man who ever lived who could point to the Son of God and say, "That's MY boy." Imagine that.

St. Joseph, thank you and please pray for all of us. HAPPY FEAST DAY

                                    
                          ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved